Unspoken // by Dee Henderson

//published 2013//

As my Dee Henderson binge continued, I was leery of picking up the next title.  Full Disclosure had been such a terrible read that I was a little scared of Unspoken.  However, while Unspoken wasn’t one of my favorite books ever, it was back into the solid 3/5 range, with a decent story, interesting characters, and some excellent dialogue – even if I did have to suffer more interaction with Perfect Ann, one of the BFFs of this books protagonists.  (Despite the fact that Ann is a SUPER HARDCORE INTROVERT who CANNOT HANDLE PEOPLE AT ALL.)

I think the main problem with these books on the whole is that Henderson has put the thriller/mystery/action part of her books in the back seat (possibly in the back seat of a full-sized van), while the romance/relationship aspect takes the wheel.  So while these stories are alright, they tend to drag through the middle bits where it’s just the main characters meandering about wondering whether or not they should get married/analyzing feelings.  Instead of an active storyline, it’s mostly people who have suffered some kind of trauma in the past (Taken, which I haven’t reviewed yet, was really bad that way), so there is no sense of urgency.

In this book, Charlotte is the main character, and she was kidnapped and held for several years, so she has a lot going on as far as recovering from some serious trauma.  I actually did like her relationship with Bryce and felt like he was really good for her.  There’s this whole side-plot, though, where Charlotte can inherit a bunch of money if she gets married, and while it was overall handled well – and I think Henderson was really just trying to use it as a catalyst so Charlotte had to make a decision – it still felt a smidge like Bryce was also marrying Charlotte for her money (even though he’s also super rich…)

Speaking of which, I found myself snorting with sarcastic laughter when shortly after they get married, Charlotte and Bryce are talking about how their daily lives are going to look, and basically Charlotte is an artist and has a studio in their house and Bryce is working from home (his job is now giving away Charlotte’s money to charity?!), and they say something like they don’t want this to be a “marriage where they just see each other at breakfast and dinner and never in between,” as though most people have marriages like that from choice instead of necessity.  Like, yeah, I’d like my marriage to be one where I saw my husband between breakfast and supper, too, except, you know, he has to earn money to pay our bills because no one has handed us millions of dollars.  I mean seriously.

Even though I’m whining about this book a bit, it was actually a fine read as long as you went into it with the attitude that this was going to be a story about relationships.  I really wish that Henderson would either go back to writing thrillers, or would market her books as romance, because what she ends up with is a boring thriller that’s spread too thin because she’s so busy with relationships, while the relationship part feels really stilted and unnatural because of the “thriller” going on in the background.

3/5 for Unspoken.  Decent read, but nothing amazing.

However, this is Book #1 for #20BooksofSummer – progress!

PS I was really glad that I read most of these books on my Kindle because these covers are D R E A D F U L.  I mean, look at that poor guy.  He looks like he’s been constipated for days.  UGH.

Unspoken // by Sarah Rees Brennan


//published 2012//

So much of YA these days is just riddled with angst.  All the characters are depressing and devoid of hope.  They struggle through a morass of apathy, taking life so incredibly seriously.  The fantasy is just as serious: someone has a job and that job must be done, or else the world will fall.  And in the meantime, it would be a crime to laugh.

Imagine my absolute surprise and happiness, then, when Unspoken made me laugh while reading the first page.  The phrase “respect the sheep” should definitely be used in conversation more often.  Brilliant.

My immediate love for Kami Glass, the heroine of Unspoken, did not diminish throughout the book – it grew.  I found myself sending quotes to my sister almost once a chapter.  The book has a great plot, fabulous characters, and is just plain funny without losing any of the tension or mystery.

And here’s a huge bonus – it’s written in third person past tense!  I didn’t even think they did that any more with YA fantasy!  Every now and then I just found myself being so happy that I was reading a third person (PAST TENSE!) narrative!  It was BEAUTIFUL.  Thank you, Sarah Rees Brennan.  Please, go forth and tell your comrades in writing to emulate your choice!

The story itself is great.  It’s paced well, with just enough information being revealed at just the right moment.  Besides loving Kami, I also loved all of her friends and reluctant gang.  Despite the fact that the synopsis of the book sounding like things might be weird, Brennan makes everything feel very plausible.

Another plus? Kami’s parents actually like each other.  What a concept!  Even better??  They like Kami, too!  Wow.

It’s not that Kami is perfect, or that her life is perfect.  But Kami is intelligent and the perfect balance between someone who takes charge without being obnoxious.  I love that she has aspirations of being a journalist, and is working towards that goal, but also realizes that she’s still in high school, so it’s not like every moment of her life has to be devoted to her craft, or if someone doesn’t take her completely seriously, it’s probably because she’s a kid, not because she’s a girl.

I was just completely in love with Kami’s upbeat and industrious attitude.  She didn’t sit around bemoaning her fate or waiting for something to happen.  She went out and got shizznizz done.  Instead of sitting around wondering what people knew, she went and asked them questions, straight up.  She consistently did what she thought was best, and didn’t spend a lot of time dithering.  I loved her quick, analytical mind, and the way she saw what needed to be done – and then did it.

In short, this book is delightfully low on angst.  Instead, the characters work through their complications, come together as a team to problem-solve, and in the end are pretty badass.  I totally loved this book and am super excited about reading the rest of the trilogy.